Beyond More Jews Doing Jewish: Clarifying the Goals of Informal Jewish Education

Journal of Jewish Education 03/2007; 73:5-23. DOI: 10.1080/15244110601175186

ABSTRACT Why has it been so difficult to define the goals of Jewish informal education? Often informal educators define their work in terms of the goals of Jewish socialization. Those terms have worked to attract funders' support, but also limited the educational creativity of this field. This article argues for a dual defining of goals: socialization and educational. Defining the educational goals leads to considering the works of Cremin, Peters, and Csikszentmihalyi who disentangle the enterprise of education from the broader sweep of socialization. Viewed apart from its socializing functions, informal Jewish education becomes the moment for going deeper and experiencing our Judaism in its full creative potential. A camp music program is offered as an example of how these two goals can operate together, but lead in distinct directions.

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    ABSTRACT: Experiential Jewish education, building on some recent significant accomplishments, stands poised to reach its Tipping Point within the Jewish communal landscape. This chapter offers a comprehensive definition of experiential Jewish education as a means of laying the foundation for describing the field in both theoretical and practical terms. Developing robust and compelling instruments to measure its success; creating systematic and comprehensive professional development programs; and building and maintaining a comprehensive unifying structure (or structures) are offered as three major steps that the field of experiential Jewish education needs to take in order to reach its maximum potential in the near future. This chapter offers a language and strategies to elevate the field of experiential Jewish education as one of the most powerful and viable strategies to develop and maintain the positive individual and collective identity of Jewish youth and young adults today.

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